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Scientific Insights into Understanding Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating is a disordered eating behavior characterized by the consumption of large quantities of food in a short period of time, typically accompanied by a sense of loss of control and feelings of distress, guilt, or shame. Binge eating is a common symptom of Binge Eating Disorder (BED), which is a recognized mental health condition. However, it can also occur in individuals who do not meet the full criteria for BED.

Key characteristics of binge eating include:

  1. Eating Large Amounts: During a binge episode, individuals consume significantly more food than most people would eat in a similar period.

  2. Loss of Control: Binge eaters often experience a feeling of loss of control during the episode. They may find it difficult to stop eating, even if they want to.

  3. Rapid Eating: Binge episodes usually involve eating rapidly, without savoring the food or being aware of the taste.

  4. Emotional Distress: Binge eating is often triggered by negative emotions, such as stress, sadness, anger, or boredom. The act of eating provides temporary relief from these emotions.

  5. Secrecy and Shame: People who binge eat often feel a great deal of shame and may try to hide their behavior. They may eat in private or during the night to avoid being seen.

  6. Lack of Hunger: Binge episodes typically occur even when the individual is not physically hungry.

It's important to note that occasional overeating or eating for comfort during stressful times does not necessarily constitute binge eating or BED. BED is diagnosed when these behaviors become recurrent, distressing, and significantly interfere with daily life.

Binge eating is associated with a range of physical and emotional health consequences, including weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and mental health issues like depression and anxiety. If you or someone you know is struggling with binge eating, it's advisable to seek professional help from a healthcare provider, therapist, or counselor, as effective treatments and support are available to help manage and overcome this condition.


Understanding the scientific underpinnings of Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is crucial for gaining insights into this complex condition. In this post, we will explore the biological, psychological, and environmental factors that contribute to BED and recommend books and articles to read for further information.

Biological Factors

Genetics: Research indicates that genetics can play a significant role in the development of BED. Individuals with a family history of eating disorders may be more vulnerable to BED.

Recommended Reading:

  • Book: "Eating Disorders, Addictions and Substance Use Disorders: Research, Clinical and Treatment Perspectives" edited by Timothy D. Brewerton.

  • Article: "Genetics of eating disorders: Advances, challenges, and future directions" by Laura M. Thornton et al. in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Neurotransmitters: Imbalances in neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine may contribute to the urge to binge eat.

Recommended Reading:

  • Book: "Neurobiology in the Treatment of Eating Disorders" edited by G. Terence Wilson.

  • Article: "Neurobiology of eating disorders" by Guido K. Frank in Current Opinion in Psychiatry.

Hormonal Factors: Hormonal fluctuations, such as those associated with the menstrual cycle, can influence binge eating behavior.

Recommended Reading:

  • Book: "The Oxford Handbook of Eating Disorders" edited by W. Stewart Agras.

  • Article: "Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: A Distinct Clinical Entity?" by Katherine Dent et al. in the Journal of Women's Health.

Psychological Factors

Emotional Distress: Many individuals with BED use food as a way to cope with negative emotions, such as stress, anxiety, and depression.

Recommended Reading:

  • Book: "The Emotional Eating Workbook" by Carolyn Coker Ross.

  • Article: "Emotional eating: The perpetuating role of childhood emotional maltreatment" by Susan M. Mason and Michael D. Flint in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Body Image: A negative body image can be a contributing factor to binge eating, as individuals may use food to numb or distract themselves from their body dissatisfaction.

Recommended Reading:

  • Book: "Body Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in Youth" by J. Kevin Thompson and Linda Smolak.

  • Article: "Body dissatisfaction and binge eating in obese women: The mediating role of self-esteem" by Rachel F. Rodgers et al. in Eating Behaviors.

Environmental Factors

Food Environment: The availability and accessibility of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods can contribute to the development and maintenance of BED.

Recommended Reading:

  • Book: "Food and Addiction: A Comprehensive Handbook" edited by Kelly D. Brownell and Mark S. Gold.

  • Article: "The Global Epidemic of Obesity: An Overview" by Frank B. Hu in Epidemiologic Reviews.

Social Pressures: Societal pressures to conform to certain body standards can contribute to body dissatisfaction and, subsequently, binge eating.

Recommended Reading:

  • Book: "The Beauty Myth" by Naomi Wolf.

  • Article: "The sociocultural model of eating disorder development: Application to a Guatemalan sample" by Anna K. Boone and Rachel F. Rodgers in Body Image.

Understanding these biological, psychological, and environmental factors can help individuals and healthcare professionals better address and treat BED. By delving into the scientific literature and expert insights, you can gain a deeper comprehension of the complexities of this disorder and how to approach its treatment and management.


Need Help Developing A Plan For Self-Care

Do you want help developing a self-care plan that works for your busy schedule? Do you want accountability in implementing a self-care plan? If you or someone you love is struggling to maintain optimal mental and emotional health, consider reaching out to Spiced Life Conversation Art Wellness Studio and Botanica. We are a Metro Atlanta, Conyers Georgia area. We are a coaching and counseling practice with empathetic, skilled counselors and recovery coaches who can help you set goals, develop a self-care routine, and move forward to build a more fulfilling life. Our team would be happy to work with you either just for a couple of sessions to develop and implement a Self-care plan or longer term to work toward overall better mental health within our membership site or other programs.

Dr. Nikki LeToya White

About The Author:

Dr. Nikki LeToya White MSEd-TL, Ph.D. RHN is the founder, director, and full-time board-certified trauma-informed nutritionist, folk herbalist, and wellness consultant at Spiced Life Conversation Art Wellness Studio and Botanica. She created Spiced Life Conversation, LLC

Art Wellness Studio and Botanica to provide the Metro Atlanta area with counseling and coaching services where clients are carefully matched with the right program for healing abandonment and childhood emotional neglect trauma that cause codependency, emotional eating, financial stress, and imposter syndrome as it relates to fear of success and being abandon. We help you begin your emotional healing journey with ease. Recently, we have expanded to include an online membership site so we now provide support to people living all over the world. All of our recovery coaches provide at least one evidence-based treatment to assist in your recovery. Dr. White is a big proponent of self-care and helping people live a fulfilling life! She has been in full remission with both codependency and emotional binge eating disorder since 2016. In living a life in recovery from sugar addiction. Loving her low-sugar balance lifestyle.

Warm Regards

Dr. Nikki LeToya White


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